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Rich Newman: From Severe Shoulder Injuries to Hiking the Grand Canyon’s Rim to Rim Trail

Rich Newman, integrated orthopedics

Rich Newman is a 65-year-old athlete and hotel general manager who completed the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike last May. For those not familiar with this challenging hike, it is a 23-mile hike that begins at the top of the Canyon’s South Rim, descends down into the Canyon floor, crosses the Colorado River and ascends back up to the North Rim of the Canyon.

Not an easy feat, even for the most experienced hiker!

“Completing this hike was a lifetime milestone and tested my physical and mental strength, conditioning and resolve,” said Rich. “But I completed it in 11 hours and 15 minutes.”

Given this recent accomplishment, it’s hard to believe that less than a year earlier, Rich was sitting in the exam room of Dr. Brian Gruber in severe pain from multiple injuries incurred playing ice hockey.

The pain and injuries were impacting Rich’s active lifestyle, which includes – in addition to hiking and hockey – golf, running and skiing. Seeking an orthopedic doctor who specialized in sports medicine and treating athletes, Rich did research online and found Dr. Gruber.

Upon examination and testing, Dr. Gruber diagnosed Rich with a full thickness rotator cuff tear that involved the supraspinatus, infraspinatus and subscapularis tendons as well as biceps tendonitis. Dr. Gruber and Rich discussed treatment options. Ultimately, given the severity of the injuries coupled with Rich’s desire to resume full use of his injured shoulder, they determined that arthroscopic surgery was the best option.

Fast forward less than a year later and Rich is not only back to hiking, but is also enjoying playing basketball, ice hockey, running and golfing again. “Without hesitation I would recommend Dr. Gruber,” said Rich. “He is a most talented surgeon and his entire team instilled confidence in me through knowledge and information to enter into surgery and physical therapy with a positive state of mind.”

Rich noted that the Integrated Orthopedics team is incredible, including Rob Hutchinson, PA-C, MS, who he said is a “top notch PA who really knows his stuff” along with the Integrated Orthopedics physical therapy team, including Jessica Tate, PT, DPT, OCS and Gary Lenox, MS, AT, ATC, CSCS, who he saw three times a week for several months for physical therapy. He credits them as being an important part of his recovery.

“I can’t imagine there is a better organized operation anywhere,” said Rich. “Everyone was so welcoming, professional, informative, motivating and uplifting.”

In addition to leading an active lifestyle, Rich says he’s a homebody at heart, although he and his wife Josy – who he calls “his better half” – enjoy regular Friday date nights and love to try new restaurants or savor a favorite spot. Rich enjoys being home cooking dinner for his wife; spending time with Lola and Lily, his two Chihuahuas; or watching a movie or the Diamondbacks play on TV. He has lived in Arizona for 13 years and is originally from Montclair, New Jersey. Rich and his wife have a son Kyle and daughter Camille.

More About Rich’s Injuries

Full Thickness Rotator Cuff Tear

The rotator cuff is comprised of four separate tendons.  Rotator cuff disease can involve multiple tendons.  The tears can be partial or full thickness. Rotator cuff disease can often be treated conservatively with physical therapy and injections. Full thickness tears may require operative intervention to achieve optimal outcome.

Biceps Tendon Injury

The biceps tendon is a structure in the shoulder that connects to the labrum. Biceps tendon injuries as well as certain labral injuries (SLAP) can be treated with a biceps tenodesis. This is a procedure where the biceps tendon is reattached on the arm to decrease pain in the tendon.

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